“I Hate Teaching”: What to Do Next

Devlin Peck
. Updated on 
March 29, 2024
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Do you find yourself thinking “I hate teaching” on a daily or weekly basis?

Let’s be clear: you don’t hate teaching… But you don’t like the (lack of) work-life balance, overwhelm, and stress that comes with the job.  

Either way, you’re in the right place. In this article, we explore why growing numbers of teachers are burnt out, common reasons they may not quit, and plans for if you do decide it’s time to.

Let’s dive in!

Why do teachers “hate” teaching?

Teaching has always involved stresses, from the large amounts of admin to dealing with students’ varying needs and behavioral issues. In recent years, however, it’s become an even more demanding job.

That’s why, even though you might feel teaching is a calling, the demands have become too big.

These days, most teachers are dealing with pressure caused by:

These issues can easily lead teachers to burn out. Many of them then feel unable to continue with work because of physical symptoms like weight gain, sleep disorders, and depression.

Even if work isn’t full of stress, you may also find yourself thinking “I hate teaching” because you’re comparing your career to those with better work-life balance. The rise of remote work highlights how inflexible classroom-based teaching is. Because when you’re commuting to school every day and find yourself staying after contract hours, you have less time for your family or personal interests.

Reasons why you don’t quit

Even though you might think about quitting five times a day, it can be hard to summon the courage to quit. Here we explore some of the most common reasons why teachers are afraid to leave their jobs.

You feel guilty

McKinsey research shows that educators are 20% more likely than private sector employees to describe “meaningful work” as a top reason they stay in their industry. And for most, teaching is not just a job… It’s a source of identity and purpose.  

Teaching can often feel like a calling — something you feel pulled toward and uniquely qualified to fill. You’re probably passionate about creating high-quality learning content and helping students overcome problems to build their futures. Moving away from this work can feel like ignoring a deep instinct or quitting the direction your life is supposed to be headed in.  

This, combined with the thought of leaving your students, can fill you with guilt. You might feel bad about burdening your co-workers when they’re already dealing with understaffing. And it often seems like it’s never a good time to consider leaving… Perhaps it’s the middle of a term or exam season, for example.

It’s important to remember that your well-being should always come first.

There are jobs out there where you can continue to help people learn and develop without dealing with the stresses of teaching in a classroom. In the final section, we look at instructional design and educational consultancy as two examples of where you can use your passion for creating high-quality learning content without burning out.  

You don’t know what else you can do

Do you struggle with feeling like there aren’t many jobs out there that you could apply for?

Or feeling like you don’t know which positions your skills are suited for?

You’re not alone. One 2020 study showed that 82% of people experience impostor syndrome in which they doubt their abilities and feel underqualified for positions they are genuinely capable of. This can lead you to miss opportunities and stay trapped in your current role.

Even if you have no corporate experience, you’ll have a lot of transferable skills from teaching that you can use across industries.

For example, you’ll have:

You don’t have a plan for leaving

It can feel scary to jump into the unknown and leave everything you’ve accomplished so far in your career behind. You might be worrying about losing a community of teachers who are in the same position or you might be stressed about being able to reach the same level of financial stability in another role.

By building a strong exit plan in your last few months, you can somewhat avoid these anxieties. To do this:

When should you leave your teaching job?

It can be easy to think about leaving a job for years, but not act until it becomes unavoidable. To avoid stress and burnout, it’s important to take positive action toward building a better future. And this means you should stay on top of strong signs you should quit.

Make a list of the pros and cons of staying in teaching.

Is getting the long summer holiday off worth the lack of flexibility for the rest of the year?

Does your position provide opportunities for professional growth or is your workload holding you back from developing your skills?

Is the stable salary worth earning less than you could in another industry?

No job is perfect, but if the cons outweigh the pros or you’re writing down things like “I’m constantly stressed” or “I don’t enjoy my lifestyle,” it’s probably time to consider quitting teaching.  

Before looking for another position, it’s also worth ruling out any other course of action. Ask yourself whether you could:

If the answer is probably no, think about how much longer you can deal with the downsides of the job.  

Remember that you can always go back to teaching if you change your mind down the line. It doesn’t need to be a final move, but it is worth looking into other careers as you might only realize once you leave how much better things can be.

What can you do instead of teaching?

As we touched on previously, finding another career as a teacher is completely doable. You’ll have plenty of transferable skills and there are a lot of positions out there for people with your background. In this section, we explore some of those.

Before considering these industries, make a list of what it is you enjoy about teaching so you know what to look out for. What do you want more of in your career? Are there specific skills you’d like to work on more or do you instead just want more free time?

Use those feelings of “I hate teaching” to find something that suits you better.

1. Instructional designer

Instructional designers create effective learning experiences to help people in companies, organizations, or higher education learn new information and skills.

In designing and developing effective learning experiences, you’ll use many of the skills you’ve honed as a teacher. However, by putting them to use in higher education, the corporate world, or for organizations such as non-profits, you’ll be able to work remotely, for more pay and on your own schedule.  

A high number of people go from teaching to instructional design because they can put their love for creating high-quality learning experiences to good use in a job that’s far less stressful than teaching.

For example, that’s how Kelley found a new career after 16 years in teaching.

You can read more about her story here and how she made it happen. And for even more stories of former teachers who have moved into the instructional design space, take a look at our student stories here.

Want to learn more? I talk all about how to become an ID here:

Average salary: $81,685

2. Marketing manager

If you enjoy the creativity of coming up with new ways to share information with a diverse range of learners, marketing could be a great industry for you to consider.

You’ll benefit from:

Some transferable skills you’ll be able to use are project management and managing multiple tasks at once. Overseeing several projects at once is very similar to supporting several student’s performances.

You could also market educational products specifically since you’ll have a great understanding of the target customer.

Average salary: $69,862

3. Educational policy consultant

Educational policy consultants work with policymakers, government agencies, and institutions to provide guidance about educational policies and programs. This means you’ll play a key role in shaping and improving schools on the ground, but don’t have to deal with the stress of working as a teacher.

Educational policy consulting is a great option if you’re looking for a role where you can research, collaborate with stakeholders, and problem-solve. There are plenty of transferable skills you can use in this role as a teacher.  

Average salary: $71,005

4. Human Resources manager

If you want to use your leadership, problem-solving, and communication skills, consider becoming a Human Resources manager. You’ll be supporting a team of staff rather than a body of students, but you’ll still have to work to create a positive work environment, resolve conflict, handle disciplinary situations, and continuously improve.

As an HR manager, you’ll oversee hiring, training, and developing employees. You also manage compensation and benefits and ensure the organization is complying with labor laws. This can come with a generous pay packet and also the opportunity to work remotely.

Average salary: $158,630

5. Executive assistant

Another role that often offers great work-life balance and more money than teaching is being an executive assistant. This involves helping executives manage their work, and supporting them by completing tasks like:

As a teacher, you’ll already have great time management, problem-solving, and communication abilities. And staying on top of an executive’s needs can be a lot less stressful than staying on top of a whole room of students.

Average salary: $53,943

6. Event planner

If you enjoy the fast-paced nature of being a teacher and thrive on planning lessons and assignments, event planning could be a great career for you.

You’ll find purpose in making sure people enjoy their weddings, corporate meetings, and parties and you’ll be able to use many of the existing skills you have in teaching.

For example, you’ll use your time-management skills to ensure that all requests are managed before the event while ensuring smooth communications with your team and the guests.

Since most event planners work on a freelance basis, this is a job that offers you additional flexibility over when and where you work. You’ll also be able to charge your own rates and command higher levels of pay.

Average salary: $47,892

And for more jobs for former teachers, take a look at our guide here.

Boost your skills to land a new position

The first thing to do when you decide on an industry you might be interested in working in is to figure out which skills you need to boost.

For most corporate jobs, you won’t need a degree.

However, an online learning program, like an online course, can flexibly help you fill in any knowledge or skills gaps.

For example, our Instructional Design Bootcamp is great if you want to get into the field. You’ll learn how to build a strong portfolio that helps you stand out from others in the industry and get personalized feedback and step-by-step guidance on your work.  

Next steps

So there you have it! A list of the main reasons why people end up thinking, “I hate teaching!”

If you’re starting to feel that way, remember that you’re more than capable of landing another position. And you shouldn’t let any job impact your mental health or stop you from living your life the way you want to.

Instructional design is one field in which high numbers of teachers have success getting higher rates of pay and enjoying a better work-life balance.

If you want to learn more about instructional design, check out our free checklist. It covers how you can become an instructional designer, including the most important models and theories of instructional design as well as the technology that will help you get a great start in this field.

Devlin Peck
Devlin Peck
Devlin Peck is the founder of DevlinPeck.com, where he helps people build instructional design skills and break into the industry. He previously worked as a freelance instructional designer and graduated from Florida State University.
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